Should I give vitamin D to my formula-fed baby?

June 4, 2020

Baby formula is often fortified with vitamin D. Your baby will benefit from this, however, the question remains as to whether your baby is getting enough vitamin D with the formula alone. The answer to this question is complex. Certain health departments make their vitamin D recommendations with the understanding that formula-fed babies may not always drink enough formula to get the appropriate amount of vitamin D to meet their growing body’s needs.

A recent study suggests that regardless of whether an infant is formula or breast-fed, they will likely still require a vitamin D supplement to meet the recommended guidelines. The author of the study, Dr. Cria Perrine of the Center for Disease Control’s division of nutrition, suggests that there is a need “to educate moms and the health-care community that vitamin D supplementation is something that they should do [and] recommend.”

As parents, we look to medical organizations for their recommendations in order to make the best decisions for our baby’s health. When it comes to formula-fed babies and vitamin D, medical organizations aren’t always aligned. To help you make sense of it all in order to make the best decision for you and your baby, we have summarized some recommendations regarding formula-fed babies and vitamin D below;

Medical organization Recommendation for formula-fed babies
UK Department of Health (NHS) Formula-fed babies that drink more than 500 mL of infant formula per day do not require vitamin D supplementation [i]  

Although the NHS does not give a clear indication of their recommendation for babies who do not meet the required amount of formula, they do mention that breastfed babies, who usually do not get enough vitamin D from breastmilk, should be given 8.5 to 10 ug of vitamin D daily.[ii]

American Academy of Pediatrics Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should take 400 IU vitamin D supplement per day beginning right after birth[iii]
American Academy of Pediatrics Infants who receive less than 1 liter of formula per day should take 400 IU vitamin D supplement per day[iv]
Canadian Paediatric Society Infant formulas with approximately 400 IU of vitamin D3 per litre should be adequate sources of vitamin D as long as the infant drinks a sufficient quantity.[v]
Health Link Alberta (Alberta Health Services, Alberta Government, Alberta Medical Association) Breastfed and formula-fed healthy infants should be given 400 IU of vitamin D as there is no guarantee that the baby is going to drink enough formula to meet their vitamin D needs[vi]
  1. Alberta Health Services. Vitamin D Supplement Recommendations for Healthy Albertans. September 27, 2019.
  2. Perrine et al. Adherence to Vitamin D Recommendations Among US Infants. Pediatrics, 125(4), 627-32. April 2010.
  3. Denise Mann. CNN Health.com . Even on formula, babies not getting enough vitamin D. March 22, 2010.
  4. NHS. Vitamins for children. Your pregnancy and baby guide. 1 February 2018. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vitamins-for-children/
  5. NHS. Vitamins for children. Your pregnancy and baby guide. 1 February 2018. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vitamins-for-children/
  6. Lisal J. Folsom et al. American Academy of Pediatrics News. Recommendations released on prevention, management of rickets. February 10 2017.
  7. Lisal J. Folsom et al. American Academy of Pediatrics News. Recommendations released on prevention, management of rickets. February 10 2017.
  8. Canadian Paediatric Society. Vitamin D supplementation : Recommendations for Canadian mothers ad infants. 2007;12(7):583-9. Reaffirmed Jan 30 2017. https://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/vitamin-d
  9. Alberta Health Services. Vitamin D Supplement Recommendations for Healthy Albertans. September 27, 2019.
Tags: administration, baby, bone, calcium, infant, recommendations, vitamin D